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Old 07-12-2020, 11:11 AM   #1
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Leavuntaun -- Soon

Perhaps some of you have seen one or more of my threads here since I bought my bus a month or 2 ago. Since that time I've moved out of my home of 24 years, taken up temporary residence at a friend's secluded estate (actually a farmlette somewhere in rural northwest New Jersey) and now, finally, have time to turn my attention toward starting the conversion of my bus.

As you can see from the title of this thread I've decided to name my bus Leavuntaun because I will, by late October regardless of how far I get on the conversion, and I will frequently thereafter until my time as a traveler in this space/time continuum comes to an end - for whatever reason. The 'soon' means my bus will be Leavuntaun 'soon' and will be 'leavin' town' soon thereafter regardless of location. I hope nobody has yet chosen that name as I rather like it.

I have a Youtube channel under the name Shovelmaster Funk and there are several videos there of my bus. I added a new one this morning which prompted me to start this new thread, it just seemed the time for a conversion thread. I don't know what I'm doing with Youtube, that will be obvious.

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Old 07-12-2020, 11:16 AM   #2
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I just spent a few minutes at the bus to see what size the seat 'bolts' are. They're 1/2". The surprise is they aren't 'bolts' they're screws. I searched for and found one of my tool boxes and dug out a 1/2" socket and ratchet to have a go at the rearmost seat 'screws' and promptly snapped off the first one (that works for me) and discovered the second turns pretty easily but won't back out, about what I'd expect from a screw that is old and corroded. I'm hoping my new impact gun will be an efficient method of either backing them out before they know they're stripped or cleanly snapping them off, I don't care which.

I noted there is some corrosion at the rear of the bus but I won't know how bad it might be until I get the flooring out, hopefully later this week.
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Old 07-12-2020, 11:33 AM   #3
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Do you have any pics of these bolts? Bus seats aren't generally held in by screws - they use bolts that go through the floor with brackets and nuts on the underside. It sounds like you snapped off the head of the first bolt and the second bolt is now spinning.

To get the second bolt off, you should be able to get underneath the bus and put a vice grips on the nut, then go back inside and back the bolt out.
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:07 PM   #4
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Do you have any pics of these bolts? Bus seats aren't generally held in by screws - they use bolts that go through the floor with brackets and nuts on the underside. It sounds like you snapped off the head of the first bolt and the second bolt is now spinning.

To get the second bolt off, you should be able to get underneath the bus and put a vice grips on the nut, then go back inside and back the bolt out.
I was under the bus, there's no question, they're screws. I didn't get pictures. If I think of it next time under I'll make a video, seems like a good subject since everyone expects bolts and nuts.

Only thing I can think of is this bus is an '04 IC which has its roots in the AmTran corporation. I've seen many comments about AmTran not being the best quality builds. I don't much care about that as long as I don't find too much rust when I pull the floor out.
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Old 07-19-2020, 11:01 AM   #5
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Last week I helped my friend (where the bus is stored and where I'm staying during my build) spread millings on his private driveway. That opened a parking pad (where the millings were piled) I'll park the bus on while I do the conversion.

I've got the filters for a complete fluid change and a new serpentine belt in hand (to the tune of $250) Radiator hoses and a new thermostat will be in on Wednesday. I have to get the engine oil, trans and diff fluid this week. I have a neighbor (former since I just sold my home of 24 years last weekend) that is a heavy equipment mechanic for the state who happens to be on furlough due to Covid who is going to come out when I have all the parts to do a complete maintenance on the bus. Originally I had figured I'd to it but I can't pass up the opportunity to have a professional mechanic who has experience with buses put his eyes on my bus. He'll notice things I wouldn't and I'd rather discover issues now than when I'm a thousand miles from home . . . oh wait . . . I no longer have a home.
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Old 07-23-2020, 04:46 PM   #6
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Over the past couple days I've been able to get all but 4 seats out. I thought I'd get them all out today but I, quite by accident, realized that the decals were very soft and pliable in the July heat and humidity of New Jersey so I and a friend who was helping with the seats, started pulling the decals. The biggie was being able to get the School Bus decal off the front top without leaving any residue. I was about to start on the rear School Bus decal when the thunder started getting close so I figured it'll be hot tomorrow as well.

With any luck I'll get the last 4 seats out tomorrow. My mechanic friend will is shooting for Monday for the maintenance and I'd like to get the interior floor stripped out next week. At that point I'll be able to see how good (or bad) the floor is.

I haven't been taking any photos or videos because the seat removal has turned out to be a filthy job and I haven't wanted to touch my phone once I start for the day.
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Old 07-28-2020, 10:33 AM   #7
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The seats, rubber membrane flooring and plywood subfloors are gone. The floor is very rusty, how rusty I don't yet know because I quit yesterday before I did any scaling or cleaning. I know I've got sheetmetal work to do which doesn't please me but that's life.

Here's a link to a short video I took just before I closed the bus up for the day yesterday.

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Old 07-28-2020, 10:54 AM   #8
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Some pictures of the rust holes in the floor.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 20200727_162551_HDR.jpg (217.7 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg 20200727_162517.jpg (154.2 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg 20200727_162528.jpg (199.3 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg 20200727_162539.jpg (203.8 KB, 9 views)
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Old 07-28-2020, 10:56 AM   #9
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More pictures of the floor.
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File Type: jpg 20200727_162613.jpg (143.9 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg 20200727_162628.jpg (160.8 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg 20200727_162635.jpg (220.3 KB, 8 views)
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Old 07-28-2020, 10:59 AM   #10
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Yikes.... that's some rust
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Old 07-28-2020, 11:30 AM   #11
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Most of that is probably not too bad - eight coats of ospho and some elbow grease should clean it right up. My motto is "if you can't see your tires from inside, you're good." The only part that looks really concerning is up front; you're probably going to want to pop the seat off and get a good look-see at the state of the floor underneath.

One thing to remember about rust is that it's about 6 or 7 times larger by volume than the steel it derives from, so you can find yourself knocking off chunks that are even thicker than the original sheet metal but that don't represent a very large percentage of the original material.
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Old 07-28-2020, 06:16 PM   #12
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Today I started by sweeping the floor. Then I took the rubber cover off the passenger side wheel well. Then I cut off all the screws that were holding the plywood that didn't pop out when I manhandled the plywood off the sheetmetal floor. I didn't even try to use an impact gun to remove any of those screws, I just got a big digging bar, a small piece of 4x4, a garden mattock and I popped the sheeting out. The plywood was so waterlogged that even though the largest was about 3x8' I could barely move them.

I then took my Ingersoll-Rand 117 air chisel, dialed it down to it's lowest setting, put in a straight chisel and went to work on the scale. I figured that'd be the easiest way, short of a needle gun which I don't own, to see how bad the floor was and where it's the worst.

The only places I went through the floor was around the wheel wells and one place on a side wall which I'll have to find again. I knew the wheel wells were going to be bad from my initial inspection yesterday.

I'm planning to cut off the bus at the first side wall seam behind the rear wheels so I'm not even going to bother with the floor behind that seam. I'll have to replace the floor from the first floor seam behind the wheel wells to the first floor seam in front of the wheel wells. Beyond that I'll have to do some patching - unless after I've chiseled away at the floor some more I decide there are other places I don't like the look of.

I also started removing the interior panels starting at the rear cap. I need to get them off to see what I'm going to have to do to remove the rear cap and cut that seam behind the wheel wells.

It'll be nice when this part is done and I can get the smell of dirt and rust out of my nasal passages
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Old 07-28-2020, 06:27 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
Most of that is probably not too bad - eight coats of ospho and some elbow grease should clean it right up. My motto is "if you can't see your tires from inside, you're good." The only part that looks really concerning is up front; you're probably going to want to pop the seat off and get a good look-see at the state of the floor underneath.

One thing to remember about rust is that it's about 6 or 7 times larger by volume than the steel it derives from, so you can find yourself knocking off chunks that are even thicker than the original sheet metal but that don't represent a very large percentage of the original material.
I've read through your conversion thread and I know what you've been going through. I'm going to have to patch the bottom edge of the wheel wells and the floor as I described in my post above.

I was hoping I wouldn't find much rust and what I've found is more than I wanted to deal with but I found this bus in Paterson, NJ which was about 30 miles from my home. I was seriously considering taking a trip to Arizona to buy a bus but, given the price I paid, the drive train and how good it looked underneath I couldn't pass this one up. I guess the cost of doing this body work will be way . . . way . . . way less than the difference I'd have paid for a bus in AZ and then getting it back here so I really can't complain about the rust.

I'll just take my time - quickly- I gotta be outta here by the end of October and get it done.

Oh, almost forgot, yes I'll have to pop the seat out and get down to the steel flooring in the front of the bus but I have my heavy equipment mechanic friend coming out on Thursday to help me perform a service on the bus so I need to keep it drivable for that. After Thursday the front will get stripped. I need to look into what I'm going to do with the driver's seat anyway. At the least it needs recovered. Hopefully it's a seat I can get new parts for.

One more thing (who am I - Columbo?) you were right about the seat bolts. I finally found them but in the end most snapped off under the torque of one of my impact guns. It was at that point that I began to realize something was wrong as most showed signs of heavy corrosion.
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Old 07-29-2020, 06:46 PM   #14
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Another day at the bus. I focused on making progress in getting the interior panels removed in the rear of the bus that I plan to remove. I got the driver side windows and lower wall section removed. I was surprised to note that the lower wall section is spot welded to the bottom of the window frame which is riveted to the outside skin. I got away with using my air chisel to cut the spot welds but I won't be able to do that in the rest of the bus since I don't want to damage that bottom window sill. I could get some of those spot weld drill bits and drill them out but that would be labor intensive, there are a lot of them. I'm going to have to think about this. Worst case I may leave those lower wall sections alone this year, I may run out of time. I may just pull and reseal the windows and call it done for this year.

I dropped the rearmost ceiling panel. Pretty easy with my Milwaukee 1/4" impact gun. Yesterday I noted that I couldn't break all the screws in those lower wall panels lose with the impact gun, the bit just spun in the screw slot, a problem. I tried my air chisel on them and, yea, it knocks them out but it takes a while and mangles the screw and panel (not that I care all that much about either). Last night I remembered I had a manual impact driver for just such situations and I actually found it this morning which is a minor miracle given that my belongings are scattered all over my friend's farm. I used the manual impact driver on the screws I couldn't break loose with the Milwaukee impact gun - perfect, all broke loose and I could take them out with the Milwaukee.

An added benefit of cutting of 8' of the rear of the bus is I'll get patch metal for the floors, as you can see below.

Tomorrow my friend is supposed to come out and we'll do a routine service of the bus.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 20200729_154128.jpg (158.3 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg 20200729_154227.jpg (195.1 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg 20200729_154310.jpg (115.5 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg ImpactDriver.JPG (111.6 KB, 6 views)
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Old 07-30-2020, 09:47 PM   #15
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Today my mechanic friend showed up to service the bus. We changed the engine oil and filter, (18 quarts), trans fluid and external filter (12 quarts and yet to check it running), differential (I couldn't find my manual pump so didn't add the fluid but I'm expecting it to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 gallons. Both fuel filters.

All the fluids were in good shape with no significant debris, metal or otherwise. Turns out that all the flexible couplers and clamps in the cold side of the after cooler need to be replaced. The serpentine belt was in such bad shape that one entire rib was missing off the belt and two more had started to separate. Two serpentine idler pulleys need replaced or rebuilt. On the other hand the water pump and alternator were in good shape.

We discussed the interior and he thought the floor was good enough to go with in all but the worst places which was my thought as well. He suggested a way to patch the wheel wells that will make the job faster and easier.

I'm glad my buddy agreed to do the service. His experience allowed him to pick up on some things I would have missed.* As soon as he pulled the paper fuel filter, he announced that the previous owner had run home heating oil in it instead of transportation diesel.* I wouldn't have picked up on that.* He knew because of the color of the paper in the filter.* He also said he believed the carrier had been replaced in the differential, I doubt I'd have picked up on that either.

Tomorrow I'm going out to pick up some tools I'm going to need to get the rivets out easier.
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Old 08-02-2020, 04:58 PM   #16
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I posted an update earlier today that doesn't appear to have saved to this thread - kinda disappointing and not the first time it's happened.

At any rate, I went to the bus this afternoon to check on some things that led to me writing my disappeared post and noticed something. We had rain last night and this morning and, when I went in the bus, I noted water had run across the bus (parked with the driver's side higher than the passenger side) obviously due to water infiltrating the driver's side windows. I guess this means I can't do anything in the bus until I seal the windows. I'll also have to do as good a job as possible on coating the floor of the bus because I can't afford anymore rust on the floor boards. I question if it's even possible to completely stop water from getting through those windows but I have to try.
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Old 08-02-2020, 06:16 PM   #17
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school bus windows are tough to seal up.. most times the leaks are from around the windows.. the emergency windows are the worst.. bluebird glues their windows in.. carpenter just used a rubber seal.. im not sure what your Gen 1 IC will have.. I know the old ward and amtran units just had a seal and didnt glue them in.. occasionally you will have some that leak at the glass seal but those arent near as common..



spray your bus with the garden hose while it is gutted.. a few windows at a time so you arent chasing water running all over.. if you know you only sprayed 3 windows and ypu have water 3 windows forward dripping you know the actual leak source is in the first 3..
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Old 08-03-2020, 10:05 AM   #18
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school bus windows are tough to seal up.. most times the leaks are from around the windows.. the emergency windows are the worst.. bluebird glues their windows in.. carpenter just used a rubber seal.. im not sure what your Gen 1 IC will have.. I know the old ward and amtran units just had a seal and didnt glue them in.. occasionally you will have some that leak at the glass seal but those arent near as common..



spray your bus with the garden hose while it is gutted.. a few windows at a time so you arent chasing water running all over.. if you know you only sprayed 3 windows and ypu have water 3 windows forward dripping you know the actual leak source is in the first 3..
Thanks for the input, I appreciate you taking the time to reply. I thought about using water but right now the bus doesn't run as I have the fuel filter off, the serpentine belt off and the diff. empty (not that I wouldn't move the bus a hundred yards without diff. fluid)

I didn't have my phone with me yesterday so I didn't take a video of the water but it fanned out from near the emergency window so I was thinking you're right, that one probably IS leaking.

I've already pulled the last 3 windows on both sides as part of prepping to cut off the rear. There is some kind of tape on the top of each window and some kind of caulk along the bottom. I'm going to pick some kind of caulk and seal as best I can. It seems like someone has used a different caulk and gotten good and bad results so I think it's a crap shoot.
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Old 08-04-2020, 02:26 PM   #19
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Hmmm, maybe I should just call my bus Waterworld. Here's a video I just made in the bus during Isaias. Maybe I should just cover the floor with some good soil and grow crops in it, they'd certainly get enough water to thrive.

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Old 08-04-2020, 02:34 PM   #20
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Leaky windows are the curse of buses, that's for sure. I wish I had the answers but right now I don't. Just going to have to keep glopping on seam sealer until the leaks stop. I've given up all hope of doing anything that works and is also cosmetically attractive.
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